Unrepentant evil will never fess up to its own culpability, and always play the victim.
Several ministries are offering a free class in Pastoral Counseling on Wednesday evenings in Prince William County, Virginia, beginning April 17, 2013, from 7:00 to 9:30 pm.
The class is open to all members of the Body of Christ from local churches (not just “pastors”!), and likely will run about twelve weeks.
To give some idea of the type of counseling we will be teaching others to do, I’ve reprinted below a blog about one session I had with a deeply troubled man last year.
Sorry, but when your “revelation” of Jesus looks a lot like you, I’m not impressed.
And when “deeper life” is merely reinforcing your own postmodern proclivities and sensibilities, I’m likewise not impressed.
Nor do I find a persistent inability to be part of a healthy, local fellowship to be a virtue.
Really, didn’t you get the memo? Postmodern angst just ain’t that compelling or counter-cultural anymore.
For most Christians, the greatest struggle is not resisting sin but in being willing to let go of our hurts. More than sin, we allow our hurts to define us, and find it difficult to leave the familiarity of our pain for the unfamiliarity of a truly new life in Christ. Even among Christians, few risk the grace of confession, forgiveness and repentance to become whole and complete in Him.
Really, it’s not that difficult…
Here’s a story of one man’s journey: Getting to Simple.
Confronting the Error of Hyper-Grace, by Michael Brown:
“The biblical message of grace is wonderful, glorious and life-transforming. We can’t live without it for one second of our lives. But there is a message being preached today in the name of a new grace reformation, mixing powerful truth with dangerous error. I call it hyper-grace…”
Hyper grace teachers deny the need for confession and forgiveness in the life of a believer. What they fail to understand, though, is that confession and forgiveness for a believer are NOT about obtaining justification, but about obtaining wholeness.
Real people want real answers and real freedom from real issues – not just the tidy platitudes of half truths.
Maybe that’s what has shaped my strong reaction to hyper grace, which is really half grace: It cannot offer real freedom from real issues because it seeks the grace of God’s affirming love and presence, but not the grace of His transforming truth and rule.
Our nation’s continuing moral and economic decline, and the growing malaise of our increasingly dysfunctional churches, has caused a renewed focus on intercessory prayer.
But intercession without transformational repentance – which Biblically involves changing the way we act by changing the way we think – is seldom effective.
While desperately seeking to touch the heart of God through intercession, few seem willing to do the concurrent hard work of understanding the mind of God. The challenges facing our nation, and our churches, require both.
This is a fifty-five minute teaching I shared with about thirty men, based on hundreds of pastoral counseling sessions where God showed up and brought freedom and healing from deep hurts – including abuse, abandonment and so much more.
My blog is a feeble attempt to upload a lifetime of service to the King of Kings. I believe this audio teaching, however, captures better than anything I’ve written some of the most significant things I’ve learned as I’ve walked with folks to those ugly places of bondage and hurt in their lives. When we get there, and they exposed their hurts and lies to the Lord, He brings His loving, healing truth.
In this talk, I also share some of my own very personal story about my own places of hurt, which I had to expose to Lord so He could then bring wholeness to me.
You may think you know me from my writings, but this captures my heart in ways that a written blog never can.
If this resonates with you, I also recommend my related blog, God Shows Up.
The more I minister to folks, the more I realize how simple it is.
And the more I realize how hard it is to get to simple.
A Healing Hug from Jesus
This morning, I met with a man who loves the Lord but has had re-occurring bouts with drug addiction. He’s now serving time in the local jail and part of an indigenous church we’ve planted there.
He was carrying lots of guilt and shame from things in his past. He was confused, because he couldn’t shake the weight of those sins.
I simply invited him to confess and expose to the Lord the sins and the burdens that were weighing him down – openly and fully.
He did so.
I then simply invited him to ask the Lord to forgive him – in his own words and in his own way.
He did so.
Then, I simply asked him to bundle up all the guilt, all the shame, and all the confusion he had been carrying and lift it up in his spirit as he gave it to the Lord - and to tell me when the Lord took it.
He did so…
… and he was free.
I then just sat back and simply stayed quiet as the Lord came and ministered to him.
After several minutes of watching the Lord’s peace and calm engulf him, I asked what had happened. (I always love asking folks to tell me what happens when the Lord meets them!)
He said the Lord had been hugging him.
I smiled, because I knew that Jesus had just brought profound healing to him, and had lifted from his life the pain that kept driving him back to drugs. He now was on the road to recovery.
The Challenge of Simple
I didn’t need to have the answers, or the cure, or even figure out the problems in this precious man’s life.
I just needed to get to simple, which for this brother meant walking with him to the place where he could confess, seek forgiveness, and trustingly turn his burdens over to Jesus.
And like He always does, Jesus showed up.
That’s the Jesus I know. He heals the brokenhearted, delivers those captured by sin, and brings liberty to the oppressed.
Yes, it’s simple to walk with folks to the place where Jesus is waiting to meet them.
But I would be misleading you if I said it was simple to learn how to minister in simplicity.
There was so much religion that God had to burn out of me. So much performance-based crap, and feeling it was all up to me.
It took years. But once I finally made it to simple, then His grace started shining through.
If you have a heart to minister, I urge you to get to simple.
When you do, you too will be amazed at what God can do.
For a related blog, see God Shows Up.
For the religious, the road to grace is the toughest journey they’ll ever face.
For me, this certainly has been the case. And although the road to grace has been a wonderful journey, there have been many bumps and detours along the way. But slowly, I’m finally starting to find my way forward.
It’s Jesus in me and Jesus through me, so that it becomes possible to have Jesus in us and Jesus through us.
So much of my life over the last five years has been about the Lord reducing me to that simple truth.
On Tuesday evening, I understood how Jesus felt when his disciples finally “got it” and reported back, after He sent them out to minister on their own for the first time, that the sick were healed and darkness conquered. In His joy, the Lord said He saw Satan fall from Heaven because of them.
On Tuesday I’m teaching and mentoring a class of students on how to minister in the areas of confession, forgiveness and repentance. After seven weeks of foundation laying, the students this week started doing ministry sessions on their own and – wow! – it was amazing what God did through them that evening.
I will be teaching a semester-long Christian counseling class beginning next Tuesday, September 6th, through early December. We will be meeting every Tuesday evening at my home just south of Manassas, Virginia, from 7:00 to 9:15 pm.
The course is being offered through Emmanuel Christian Institute, in conjunction with Fulcrum Ministries, for a very modest $200 (this fee goes to ECI for much appreciated administrative support, not me!).
What if leader’s sin is public and brings reproach on the church, or is an abuse of his position of trust and power in the church? Then it must be addressed openly as a warning to all – no exceptions! 1 Timothy 5 teaches this.
Much to my dismay, God keeps bringing people to my door who have been abused by a pastor or other trusted church leader.
Over the last year, I’ve taken on three cases against abusive pastors. Two involve significant embezzlement and fraud by pastors in different churches. A third involves extensive sexual abuse and misconduct by around half a dozen men on the pastoral and ministerial staff at Christ Chapel Assembly of God in Woodbridge, Virginia.